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They Have a Story | April Edition

It's time for the April edition of They Have a Story!

What is They Have a Story? It's a monthly historical fiction link up hosted by yours truly. Once a month I'll post a historical picture. Your job (and mine ... I'm totally doing this!) is to write a short story inspired by it. It can be as short or as long as you like. Have fun with it! Post the monthly picture, your story, and blog button on your blog, then link up. Let’s see how many different stories we can get from the same picture! 

I'm open to picture ideas for future months so if you come across one you like, send it my way! (Especially if you don't want WWII pictures every month. Ha ha ha … just kidding. Sort of.)


Happy writing!


The Musician

An excerpt from an unfinished/abandoned story:

I made a mistake about him.

The musician doesn’t want to live. In fact, he wants to die. But I wasn’t wrong in knowing I’d be free if I stayed close to him.

“Do you have someplace to go?” I ask him as the line of workers disappear.

He nods, then looks at me out of the corner of his eye. “Do you?”

I shake my head, but he says nothing. Machine gun fire rips through the air. My heart thuds against my ribs, my adrenaline soars. Mattress feathers cascade through the open apartment windows like a fresh snow. Someone screams.

“They’re still emptying this section,” I say, eyes darting for a place to hide.

I half expect him to run toward the gunfire, to give himself up, but there’s still some survival instinct left in him. He runs like mad toward an alleyway. I’m on his heels.

“Go away!” he hisses over his shoulder.

“I don’t want to die today,” I call, running harder.

He skids to a stop as we near a pile of furniture thrown from the evacuated apartments. He dives in, covering himself with tattered clothing and blankets. I slide in behind him, a baby pram hides me from view. The wheels are cracked, the casing rusted. A quilted baby blanket lays over the side, a blanket that once warmed an infant.

Where is that child now?

“I wish you’d leave me alone,” his dark eyes bore into mine as he rakes a hand through his sweaty hair.

I don’t like him. I gave him too much credit in my imaginings. I ignore his comment and stare past him instead. An SS officer marches past, his gun wedged in a woman’s back. Her long black hair lays in tangles over her shoulders. More people pass by, caught just when they thought they were free from the roundups. The train whistle screeches. The SS push their victims faster and harder.

Our breathing is loud in my ears. Suppose they can hear our desperate gulps for air? I cover my mouth until they pass. The musician is running his hands over his face.

“They’d want you to live. Your family, I mean,”  I whisper.

He lifts his head, throwing a vicious glare at me. He looks as if he’s about to say something, then changes his mind and simply shakes his head.

The musician and I are different, I can clearly see that. He doesn’t have anyone or anything to live for.

I do.

He pushes himself out of the blankets and stands up, wiping his face with the back of his hand before dashing down the alley, as if the devil was on his heels.

I swallow, watching him.

I realize the deadly truth in that single thought.



I'm currently reading In the Footsteps of the Band of Brothers by Larry Alexander and I'm really enjoying it! Here's one of my favorite parts so far:

There was also Floyd Talbert who, Guth recalled, underwent intense ribbing due to being deathly afraid of anything that crawled. "We were always putting something in his footlocker or in his bed," Forrest remembered with a chuckle. "We even put things in his ammo belt. He'd go wild."

It's amusing to think about a young, strong, brave paratrooper being deathly afraid of bugs! (Not that I blame him...)

When my sister and I can't agree on a desktop background ... 
My family and I had the opportunity to welcome home an Honor Flight mission! It was such an amazing experience! One Korean War veteran had tears in his eyes as we shook his hand: "This is a better welcome home than I had after the war." I just love what Honor Flight does for our veterans. I'd love, love, love to be a guardian someday!

I've been trying to train for a 5k between the snow and rain. Thankfully I've had a handful of beautiful days to run! Next stop, Currahee! 3 miles up, 3 miles down! (I'm gonna die.)

Writing-wise, I'm working on an article to submit to history magazines. Also, an article I wrote about two WWII veterans was published in our local paper! I'm doing a bit of research for a novel idea I have, and I need to start preparing for two books talks I have coming up!

Here's a sneak peek from my research:

Ratsy: A blend of rat and Nazi.

Khaki-Whacky: A woman overly fond of men in uniform. 

Royal Order of Whale Bangers: An "exclusive" club open only to airmen who have mistakenly dropped depth charges on whales, supposing them to be enemy submarines.

And then I realized I had a whale on my research notebook. Hey, it's not my fault that whales and submarines look so alike. 

What are you currently reading/writing/researching?


Veteran Interview | Eric Lundberg, U.S. Navy

I recently interviewed my favorite Navy veteran, Eric Lundberg! He was stationed on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt and USS Erben during the Korean War. You can listen to the interview below:


Blog Survey Results!

The survey results are in! Thank you all SO much for filling out my first blog survey. I really appreciate you taking the time to tell me a bit about yourself and what you'd like to see more of on Taking Dictation.  Ready to see the results?! 

How long have you been reading my blog?

Are you a ...

How old are you?

What's your favorite social media platform?

What's your favorite blog topic?

 Out of those topics, what type of posts do you find most interesting?

What time is most convenient for you to stop by?

How do you feel about the frequency of posts? 

How do you find out about new blog posts?
You guys gave me some great post ideas such as, how to incorporate faith in stories, sharing about different German resistance movements, and storage/care tips for reenacting gear. I'm excited to jump into blogging with more gusto this spring and write about topics you requested! 

Thank you all again! 


Jacob | 5th Ranger Battalion, Easy Company

This is the ninth interview in my WWII reenactor interview series:

Zachary | 325th Glider Infantry Regiment
Josh | 502nd PIR and 5th Rangers

1. Why did you choose your impression?
I chose my impression because I have been a WWII history buff since probably kindergarten. I went to D-Day Conneaut in 2015. One of the head staff helped me get the information I needed to get into this hobby. Major James Martin of the 101st Airborne 506th is the Airborne commander for the event and has been reenacting for 30 years or more. I went on field with him on the Foucarville and La Fiere bridge battle. I thought it was pretty cool but the next day, I watched the main D-Day battle and I was very impressed by the entire thing, especially the authenticity. 

2. Can you tell us about your reenacting gear?
My gear is Corcoran boots, M1937 or you can use the M1941 wool shirt, M1937 wool pants with a belt, M1923 cartridge belt for my Garand and you can also use it for clips of M1 carbine. It holds 10. I chose the Garand over the carbine since it is one of my favorite weapons of that time period. Really cool design, too. The blanks are not too expensive and one of my officers can make them for me at a great price. 

3. What's your favorite part of reenacting? 
My favorite part is a very tough decision. The authenticity is definitely one of them. The veteran appreciation is really nice, too. The people you can meet at these events is another nice part including participants and veterans. I also love the fact that when you are in a group that you like so much, you can share and develop great stories from being on the battlefield with your friends in your group. 

4. What group do you reenact with? Are they recruiting?
I am in the 5th Ranger Battalion, Easy Company. We are accepting recruits as long as they are sponsored by a member. I chose this group because of being so interested in the US military for so many years. I decided that I wanted to join an American unit in that beach battle after seeing this event. I only had 5 choices. I decided after looking online through those groups, this one appeared to be the one closest to my area and still in the Conneaut event. I started going to events with my company and it has been an excellent experience for me. 

5. What have you learned from reenacting?
I learned a lot of great things in WWII reenacting. You can learn a lot of history behind the war that's not in history books. Once you start taking pictures at events, it can help you improve on what to do next time, how to pose, the modern or original color, etc. I also learned that when you join a group, study their gear and clothing, guidelines, and things like that. When you are on the battlefield, you are still a family. They always look out for you, not just while engaged in battle, but also to make sure that you do what you are supposed to do in certain scenarios and make sure don't actually get hurt in the event. Always trust your officers in the field. Also, be as polite and courteous as possible when speaking to the public. 

6. Who's your favorite WWII hero?
I never had any favorite war heroes but I consider those who served in huge parts of the war heroes, such as Operation Overlord and Operation Market Garden. They risked and sacrificed the most just so we can live today. Those who died and did end up paying that ultimate sacrifice did so for the same purpose. 

7. What advice would you give to newbie reenactors?
My advice to those starting is whenever you have questions about anything, always ask your officers or the lads who have been doing this for a while. For example, if you are looking at buying something for your kit, show them the item and ask them about it. Is it a good deal? Is there anything I should watch for with this item? Is the brand good? Was it common for my group to use this back then? Those kinds of things. Also, if you are unsure of the purpose of the gear or what it is used for or how to use it, do ask about that. If your group has a soldiers manual, study it as much as possible. It makes a huge difference in the long run. If you are struggling with something, always let your officers help you. Don't think they will scream at you like you see in the movies. For example, when you are doing drills and ceremonies and if you mess something up or need to fix the way you hold the rifle or whatever, they will very politely help you out.

WWII Films

Today I'm sharing a list of WWII films I've recently watched and some I'm eager to see! But before I dive into that, I just want to remind ya'll that the blog survey is still up. I'll be closing it next week and then I'll do a fun little blog post with the results. So if you haven't taken the survey, please do!

Ok. Here we go.


"Look them in the eye. They'll remember you."

Valkyrie is based on the true story of Claus von Stauffenberg who was a German army officer and one of leading members of the failed July 20th plot to assassinate Hitler. Obviously I knew they didn't succeed, but I still was hugging a pillow and dying from the suspense. UGH. ALL THE FEELS. I really liked this one. 

Flags of Our Fathers

"I want you to always remember something. The heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who didn't come back."

Flags of our Fathers tells the story of the Marines involved in the second flag raising on Mount Suribachi and how the publicity/propaganda of that picture affected their lives. I really want to watch the companion film, Letters From Iwo Jima.


"Freedom of speech means you can say whatever you want. What you can't do is lie and expect not to be held accountable for it."

I mentioned Denial before, but it's really a great film so I have to mention it again! It's based on Deborah Lipstadt's book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. Deborah Lipstadt was a Holocaust scholar and was sued by Holocaust denier David Irving for libel. 

Blessed is the Match

“To die, 
so young to die.
No, no, not I,
I love the warm sunny skies,
light, song, shining eyes,
I want no war, no battle cry,
No, no, not I.” 

Blessed is the Match is a docudrama about Hannah Senesh, one of 37 Jewish parachutists of Mandate Palestine who assisted in the rescue of Hungarian Jews about to be deported to Auschwitz. She was executed at the age of 23. It's an incredible story. I just got the book Hannah Senesh, Her Life and Diary and I'm looking forward to reading it. 

 Now five WWII films I'm looking forward to watching this year!


Dunkirk: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.


The Zookeeper's Wife

The Zookeeper's Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

Warsaw? WWII? Umm yeah. I gotta watch this. And read the book.

Hacksaw Ridge

Hacksaw Ridge: WWII American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

I still haven't seen this! I have it on hold at the library so I WILL be watching this soon!

Ashes in the Snow

In 1941, an aspiring artist and her family are deported to Siberia amidst Stalin's brutal dismantling of the Baltic region. In a seemingly hopeless place, love is the only means of survival. 

I read the book by Ruta Sepetys and ever since I've been so excited about the movie! There's not a release date yet, but it's supposed to come out this year!

Who Will Write Our History?

This one doesn't have a release date either, but it's coming out this year and I cannot wait! It's a full length documentary about the hidden archives of the Warsaw Ghetto. Please come out soon, PLEASE. 

What are some of your favorite historical films? What new releases are you looking forward to seeing?